Lucknow: “I am ready to go to jail for Ram temple. Not once I have disowned my role and participation in Ram temple agitation," said Uma Bharti.
Bharti's outburst and attempt to be seen as a soldier for the cause of Ram temple in Ayodhya, was clearly visible as she addressed the media just hours after Supreme Court on April 19 ordered to restore the criminal conspiracy charges against top BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, and her in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
Almost similar reaction came in from Vinay Katiyar. BJP's Rajya Sabha MP and one who was the president of the Bajrang Dal in 1992 when the Babri Mosque was razed down. The question that begs the answer is what does this sense of confidence and willingness to be a 'martyr' indicate?
No doubt the sudden development in the case has seized any possibility, if any existed at all, for Advani and Joshi of being the presidential or the vice presidential candidate from the BJP.
However, the day-to-day trial of the demolition case as ordered by the Supreme Court and slapping of conspiracy charge that is section 120 B of IPC against them has brought the political spotlight back on the duo.
Will a controversial issue, like this, which had once propelled BJP's fortunes in national politics by any means again be a game changer for the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls? Sharat Pradhan, Lucknow-based senior journalist, says, “The sort of reaction coming in from the likes of Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar clearly indicate that the BJP might try to make Ram temple a political issue before Lok Sabha polls."
Pradhan, however, added that “the temple politics will not resonate to that extent with the people at large, however hard a section of the BJP and the RSS may try to build a larger Hindutva narrative around it.”
BJP, however, was guarded in its approach on the issue.
Party's state spokesperson Dr Chandra Mohan said: "Ram temple issue had always been a matter of faith for the BJP. Party's top leadership will study and analyse the Supreme Court order in detail."
Those fighting this case for decades now are, however, hopeful of justice being delivered.
Jafaryab Jilani, convener of the Babri Masjid action committee, says: "Better late than Never. We hope that now after apex court's order for day-to-day trial against the accused, including top leaders of the BJP, justice will finally prevail."
He, however, added that “we will have to see if UP government fully cooperates with the CBI as far as production of witnesses in the case is concerned.”
Will BJP somehow try to build a larger political narrative around the Ayodhya issue? The answer is still awaited. But the subtle Hindutva campaign, which many feel helped BJP in achieving the landslide majority in UP Assembly polls, can further get a boost with build up around the Ram temple debate.
And with a Chief Minister known for his hardline Hindutva approach and who has already gone public with his idea of facilitating the efforts for an out-of-court settlement of the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, there should be no surprise if the matter gains a significant prominence by the time the country approaches the 2019 general elections.(This report was originally published on April 19, 2017)